US developers added nearly 10 GW of utility-scale PV in first 10 months of 2021


From pv magazine USA

In its latest analysis of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Energy Infrastructure Update and the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook, the non-profit SUN DAY Campaign has discovered that solar, wind and other renewable energy sources (including biomass, geothermal and hydropower) are now adding more than 2,250 MW of new generating capacity per month in the United States.

Specifically, utility-scale renewable facilities, which are defined by FERC as being larger than 1 MW in capacity, added 18,255-MW of new generating capacity in the first 10 months of 2021, for an average of 1,826 MW per month. Distributed resources, which are defined by the EIA as being smaller than 1 MW in capacity, have been forecast to grow by about 5,100 MW throughout all of 2021, for an average of about 425 MW per month.

In total, utility-scale renewables plus rooftop solar are now providing an average of more than 2,250 MW of new capacity per month. The 9,604 MW of new utility-scale solar reported by FERC for the first 10 months of 2021 is the most ever added in the United States in a 10-month period and is considerably higher than the 6,516 MW added during the same time period in 2020, or the 3,758 MW added in 2019.

Due in part to these impressive monthly additions, the SUN DAY Campaign says that renewables now provide roughly one-quarter of total US installed generating capacity, at 25.47%. This share is significantly greater than that of coal, which represents 18.77%, and more than three times that of nuclear power, which represents 8.32%.

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“The breathtaking pace at which solar and wind are adding new capacity explains why renewable sources combined have eclipsed the generating capacity of nuclear power and surpassed that of coal, as well as whittled down the lead of natural gas,” said Ken Bossong, the executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign.

A year ago, the share of renewables was 23.31%. Five years ago, it was 18.58%, and a decade earlier it was 14.12%, according to the SUN DAY Campaign. It attributes this overall renewables expansion to a nearly threefold increase in wind’s share of installed generating capacity and a massive increase in solar’s share. Wind is now 10.54% of the nation’s generating capacity, while utility-scale solar sits at 5.21%, up from 0.15% in October 2011, not including distributed solar.

“Conservatively, over the next three years, renewables should expand from about a quarter of the nation’s generating capacity today to at least 30% and probably more,” said Bossong.

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